MONETA, Va. — This was not the start that Elite Series rookie Brent "Brody" Broderick envisioned for his career at the uppermost echelon of the bass fishing world.
With three events in the books, he's not quite at the bottom of the Bassmaster Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year standings, but he's far too close to triple digits for comfort.
But he claimed that it's not entirely his on-the-water efforts that have undermined his finishes so far. Instead, a series of mechanical gremlins and personal tragedies have taken his head out of the game. It's not quite possible to term them a comedy of errors, simply because there's nothing funny about them.
The problems started at Amistad, where his motor blew up on the second day. Then at Dardanelle he received the news that a 4-year-old neighbor, his own son's best friend, had died unexpectedly in his sleep.
"How do you prepare for something like that?" he asked rhetorically. "I couldn't get his face out of my mind the whole tournament."
At Wheeler, the list of tragedies continued. During the practice period he got the news that his father had suffered a massive heart attack. He's doing much better now, but the conflicting desires to fish out the week and to be with his father pulled at Brody's heart.
Prior to today's launch of the Advance Auto Parts Blue Ridge Brawl, he admitted that with only five Elite Series tournament left on the slate for 2009, he has "changed goals."
All-everything angler Kevin VanDam, whose boat was tied up next to Broderick's, offered the following encouragement: "It's got to get better. The odds are in your favor."
Broderick assumed the same thing heading into this week's event, but alas his streak of bad luck did not end at three tournaments. During the practice period his truck died, and while his competition spent yesterday looking for bedding bass that would bite, he spent the day trying to locate a new tow vehicle. Even after he found a rental truck there were problems.
"The lights didn't work and the hitch didn't work. I was up until 9 o'clock jimmy rigging it," Broderick said.
He has concluded that this string of nightmares is somehow related to the notoriously unlucky No. 13.
"At Amistad, it was the 13th day of the month and I weighed in 13 pounds, 13 ounces. Then at Dardanelle I ran into Brian Clark, who finished dead last at Amistad. He weighed in 13 pounds even the first day and 13 pounds even the second day, for 26 pounds even and 26th place.
"At Wheeler, the first person I saw was Brian Clark, who I didn't even really know before Dardanelle, and I ended up missing the cut by 13 ounces. I've been playing some combination of 13 in the lottery every week since then. Skeet told me that maybe it means I've got a first and a third in me, so put me on your fantasy team."
Despite the light-hearted approach to his difficulties, Broderick admitted that he's starting to feel the stress of his situation: "It's like an avalanche," he said. "Or like a boa constrictor tightening up around me."
Nevertheless, hope springs eternal.
"It can't get any worse than it's been," Broderick concluded with a sigh. "These are all chapters for my book."